Maria Argyropoulina

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Maria Argyra (also Argyre or Argyropoulina) (Greek: Μαρία Ἀργυρή or Ἀργυροπουλίνα; died 1007), of the Argyros family, was the granddaughter of the Byzantine emperor Romanos II, niece of the emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII, and sister to the Byzantine emperor Romanos III Argyros.[1]

In the Chronicon Venetum by John the Deacon, it is mentioned that Maria was the daughter of a noble patrician, called Argyropoulos, who was a descendant of the imperial family. This information is confirmed by the chronicle of Andrea Dandolo, who says that she was the niece of the emperor Basil II.

In 1004 Maria was married to Giovanni Orseolo, the son of the Doge of Venice Pietro II Orseolo, in the Iconomium palace[clarification needed] in Constantinople with full imperial pageantry – the couple was crowned with golden diadems by Basil II. Maria brought to her husband great dowry, including a palace in the imperial capital, where they lived after the wedding. Basil also honored Maria's husband with the title of patrician.

Before they left Constantinople, Maria Argyra begged the emperor for pieces of the holy relics of Saint Barbara, which were brought to Venice by her.

Maria Argyre and Giovanni Orseolo had a son, who was named after emperor Basil II.

In 1007 Maria, along with her husband and son, died when plague swept through the city-state.

Half a century after her death, she was criticised by Peter Damian for her use of a fork for eating (forks being unfamiliar in Western Europe at the time), perfumes, and dew for bathing.[2]


  • Tapkova-Zaimova, Vasilka (2009). "Balgari rodom": komitopulite v letopisnata i istoriografskata traditsiya (in Bulgarian) (1. izd. ed.). Veliko Tarnovo: Univ. Izdat. "Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodiy". p. 119. ISBN 9789545246845.
  • Nicol, Donald MacGillivray (1992) [1988]. Byzantium and Venice: A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations. Cambridge University Press. pp. 44–47. ISBN 0521428947.
  • Norwich, John Julius (1991) Byzantium: The Apogee, London: BCA


  1. ^ Norwich p. 270
  2. ^ Norwich p. 260